cover image 2034: A Novel of the Next World War

2034: A Novel of the Next World War

Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis. Penguin Press, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-9848-8125-0

In this sobering near-future novel from Ackerman (Waiting for Eden), a former Marine, and Stavridis (Sailing True North), a retired U.S. Navy admiral, a number of incidents across the globe build toward war between the U.S. and China. American war ships in the disputed waters of the South China Sea come upon an incapacitated trawler carrying advanced Chinese technology. The plane of a Marine pilot testing new stealth capability is remotely hijacked and delivered into Iranian hands. A Chinese defense attaché on assignment in the U.S. executes a plan to decimate the American Navy and cripple the nation’s cyber infrastructure. A U.S. deputy national security adviser at odds with his superiors must use his ethnic connections to negotiate a peace, even as an ever-escalating series of attacks engulfs American and Chinese cities in nuclear fire. The authors do a fine job depicting the human cost of geopolitical conflict, though they avoid the hardware emphasis of most military thrillers, and some of the potentially more exciting scenarios occur offstage. Those seeking a realistic look at how a future world war might play out will be rewarded. Agents: P.J. Mark, Janklow & Nesbit (Ackerman); Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency (Stavridis). (Mar.)